Home' South Florida Gay News : SFGN 061715 Contents 28 // 6.17.2015 // SFGN.com // soflagaynews // SouthFloridaGayNews
The Case for Bisexuals at Pride
Los Angeles Bi Task Force marching in LA Pride, 2011. Photo Credit: Los Angeles Bi Task Force.
NYC'S Bi Request marching in NYC Pride, 2008.
Photo Credit: New York Area Bisexual Network (NYABN).
In 2015, the city of Boston, Massachusetts, will have
two bisexual marshals for its LGBT Pride march.
Boston's choice of grand marshal marks one of
the first times a bisexual community advocate has been
chosen to marshal an LGBT Pride Parade in the U.S.
Ellyn Ruthstrom, former President of the Bisexual
Resource Center (BRC) and executive director of SpeakOUT,
will join Woody Glen, BRC co-founder as parade marshals.
"It will be such an honor to ride with Woody through
the streets of Boston --- wearing tiaras, of course --- with
the 45-foot bi pride flag and dozens of bi community
members behind us," Ruthstrom says. "We might be
riding in the car, but Woody and I are representing so
many other bisexual people who have struggled and
fought for our place within the movement."
Bisexual activist Brenda Howard is known as the "Mother
of Pride" for her work in coordinating the first LGBT Pride
events in 1969, held in New York to commemorate the
Stonewall riots. Yet many bisexual people routinely feel
erased during LGBT Pride, or in some cases feel unsafe at
LGBT Pride events.
Last year, the Empathize This project published a web
comic titled "Prejudice at Pride" sharing the story of a UK
woman who experienced verbal and physical abuse at
Pride because she is Black and bisexual. Her experience
isn't unique, and may explain why studies show bisexual
people have the lowest level of affiliation with the LGBT
Dan Savage once said, "Biphobia will continue to thrive
so long as the majority of bisexuals remain closeted. That's
just a fact."
The reality is we're not closeted to the extent that Savage
claims, otherwise the LGBT ecosystem that includes Pride
marches, LGBT centers and LGBT serving organizations
would cease to exist. Projects like "It Gets Better," co-
founded by Savage to save LGBT youth from suicide,
depend on bisexual data to validate their need. It's about
numbers, pure and simple.
Exhibit A: The bisexual population represents 40-51
percent of the entire LGBT community.
Exhibit B: The policy areas that affect bisexuals MORE
than their lesbian, gay, heterosexual, and in some cases,
non-bisexual transgender peers include suicide, anxiety,
PTSD, cancer, heart disease, rape, stalking, sexual
violence other than rape, intimate partner violence,
alcohol, tobacco and substance use, poverty, workplace
discrimination, bullying, and HIV/AIDS.
Despite claims that most bisexuals are closeted, we
constantly show up in data. We don't hide from our
disparities either, much to the chagrin of those
who would "normalize" the experience of all
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people
into a respectability devoid of personal reality.
Bisexuals are not trying to be just like everyone
else, most of us have already tried that.
Bi people stand out in the history of the LGBT
movement for our bravery, and for stubbornly going
out on a limb to save lives, no matter the consequence.
Whether its bisexual politico Emily Dievendorf launching
a petition to boycott Mitchfest's transgender exclusionary
practices in 2014 or bi icon Dr. David Lourea creating safe
sex workshops for gay and bisexual men facing an AIDS
epidemic in 1984, bisexuals don't hide from the work.
Bisexuals should not have to justify their right to
pride, but we often do. Despite being ready to celebrate
our identity, we often arrive at LGBT Pride celebrations
to invalidation, outright hostility and a distinct lack of
warmth. At LGBT Pride, bisexuals often feel like a side
dish, best served coldly or not at all.
Whether it's a bisexually erasive exhibit on LGBT history
at Milwaukee Pride or tweets from Atlanta Pride saying
"gay pride, a dyke march, and a trans march -- something
for everybody," bisexuals are left out. Bi people in Portland
report feeling relief when "no one laughs or throws
insults" as they march in Pride Portland. Meanwhile Brian
Aden from Nebraska says, "while at Pride event last year
I prominently wore my 'Bi Pride' button and the bisexual
colors. I had several people comment how unusual it was
for someone to exhibit pride at being bisexual."
And yet our pride remains.
Pride in a bisexual culture almost 50 years deep, so rich
with diversity that we commonly use brand extensions
like bi+ and bi* to indicate the wealth within. Whether
its comedy festivals, art festivals and art installations,
filmmakers, politicians, writers, bloggers, or people of color
collectives, our community has a unique voice and shared
experience deeply empowered by a consistent, driving
need to welcome difference and champion diversity.
Bi friends and bisexual networks helped create a world
where same sex marriage might be possible in 50 states,
and a society where a transgender icon like Laverne Cox
could get tastefully nude in Allure magazine. I'm talking
about bisexuals like Dr. Alan Rockway who in 1977 co-
authored the nation's first gay anti-discrimination law in
Florida and launched a Florida orange juice boycott to
defend it. Or Lou Reed who penned 1972's "Walk on the
Wild Side," a song that featured real life narratives of trans
Bisexuals like Reed are often bridges to different
communities whether it's cisgender and transgender or
gay and straight. Hiding in plain sight, our data, lives and
creative light continue to build the LGBT community, brick
by bisexual brick. We'll keep showing up, so this Pride
season please recognize bi people with the pride they
deserve. Validate different sex couples by asking if they're
bi, instead of assuming that the stroller counts them out.
Celebrate signs of bi+ culture like our buttons, t-shirts,
or purple hair -- we wear them to be identified with pride.
Originally from San Luis Obispo, California,
Faith Cheltenham is the current President of
BiNet USA, a national non-profit advocacy
organization for bi people. Faith's been an LGBT
activist for 15 years and is also an accomplished
writer, poet, and stand-up comic. Faith is mom
to two-year-old Storm, step-mom to six-year-
old Cadence, and wife to Matt in a very modern
family in Los Angeles.
column by the bi
Links Archive SFGN 062415 Navigation Previous Page Next Page